Turbo Diesel: 1980 Alfa Romeo Alfetta

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As we all know, I tend to be drawn to oddball, quirky European cars. Even better if they were never sold here, as I hate seeing myself driving down the road. This rare 1980 Alfa Romeo Alfetta with a turbo diesel engine checks all of those boxes, and it’s available here on eBay with no reserve. Factor in a dog-leg 5-speed box with all the European-market trimmings and I’m intrigued. 

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Now here’s the kind of seller you want to buy a completely random Italian import from: three-car garage, another hotted-up Alfa in the first bay, and smartly registered in Vermont where nobody bats an eye about gray-market vehicles. This Alfetta isn’t perfect cosmetically but it remains in good overall condition with just some separation of the plastic trim on the passenger-side rear corner of the bumper. Despite the seller’s location, it doesn’t appear that rust is an issue so I’d assume this Alfa was kept inside during the long New England winters.

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Inside you’ll find a classic Alfa cockpit with a silky manual transmission and povery-spec seating surfaces, another clear indication this was never intended for the typically tarted-up U.S. market. The seller notes that the interior is overall in solid condition with just some minor cosmetic flaws, like a broken passenger side door handle and slow electric windows (the latter can likely be addressed with cleaning and re-greasing). The claim that he doesn’t know if the A/C is functional because he lives in Vermont seems somewhat disingenuous – I’d wager it doesn’t work.

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I totally dig the glassed-in European headlights and the headlamp washers, two features often stripped from cars bound for the U.S. market. Also note the driver-side only passenger mirror (most European-market cars only had one). Assuming the engine is the VM80A, this turbodiesel Alfetta should have about 120 lb.-ft. of torque and KKK 16 turbochargers to help overcome the reduction in horsepower versus the gasoline models. Still, without the restrictive U.S. emissions equipment, this one should be a pleasure on long-distance highway cruises.

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Comments

  1. Dairymen

    Passenger side mirror was 1 of the options available. I drove a similar alfa and the biggest problem was that the pedals were so close together that when you hit the brake you most likely hit the clutch or accelerator as well.

    • bialbero.it

      Have you ever heard of “doppietta”?

      • Paolo Armando

        Doppietta in Italian language means “double declutching” not necessary with sincromesh gearboxes but very useful especially when driving off road also with sincromesh.I began to drive when I was 10 y.o. with my father’s 1954 Fiat 1100 Famigliare that had first gear non syncronized and my father teached me to do always “doppietta”, still today this is my mode of declutching.
        Beat wishes to all!

  2. Chris

    Curious. When did Vermont go to plates that look like mid 70’s Colorado plates?

    • The Walrus

      Vermont has had road sign colored plates since the 60’s.

      Like 1
  3. redwagon

    vermont has had these plates (white characters on green field) since at least 1979-80

  4. audifan

    This is not an Alfetta, it’s an Alfa 6. They were produced from 1979 until 1985. This particular car is a 2nd series with a 2.5 VM 5cyl Turbo diesel.
    I imported this car many years from Rome, Italy via Germany to So. CAL. After enjoying it for many years I sold it to the prvious owner who is a very knowledgeable Alfa connoisseur and collector. Unfortunately, the current sller has no idea what he is talking about
    It’s a very unique car in fine condition and AFAIK the only Alfa Sei Turbodiesel in the USA.

    • audifan

      Sorry, it was too late to correct spelling errors:
      previous
      seller

  5. Tirefriar

    It is indeed an Alfa Sei. This one may be the same repeat offender that was up for sale last year. Stupid claim on the A/C only discredits the seller. All it takes is to turn on the A/C to check if it works. Vermont is not Alaska, there is plenty of warm days during summer.

    • Audifan

      When I sold it to the Alfa collector in Vermont the A/C compressor was fine, but the blower motor did NOT work, i.e., you had cool air being pushed in driving on the freeway, but none in stop-and-go traffic.

  6. Dolphin Member

    Very interesting to have audifan, the previous owner and importer of this very car, talk about it here. I’m guessing the turbo diesel was Alfa’s response to the oil and energy crises of the 1970s for people who still wanted a large sedan in Southern Europe. I think Mercedes made a 5-cylinder diesel in the ’70s but I wasn’t aware that Alfa did…..or did they buy them from some other maker, like Audi?

    For an older oddball orphan diesel 4-door sedan from Italy (phew, that’s a lot of qualifiers) it looks like it’s in pretty good condition. And also desirable, considering that it has 8 bids from 7 different bidders after only 4 days. Even if the torque isn’t overwhelming and parts need to come from Europe, it could be a fun car to have if you’re an Alfa fan and don’t need to depend on it for daily transportation. The 5-speed would add character, and it’s sure to draw lookers at any Alfa meet that you take it to.

    There are a few Alfa parts specialists in the US who could probably source most of what you might need for the car, so for a bid well under $2K (currently) it could be an OK car for an Alfa fan to own just for the fun and uniqueness if it all.

    • Audifan

      The engine was sourced from VM Motori in Italy. You can google it and get a ton of information. They have been supplying diesel engines for a lot of different manufacturers over the years.
      For having only about 105 hp the engine in this Alfa 6 feels quite powerful and is very smooth and quiet. The fuel mileage was always around 30 mpg and cruising on the freeway at 85 mph was very comfortable. All in all, it was a great car.

      After the sale of my Alfa Giulietta Spider, 33, 90 and a couple of Alfasuds, this was my last Alfa I sold and I dedicated more attention to my Mercedes, VWs, Saabs and Audis in my little car collection again.

    • Dolphin Member

      Thanks for filling in the story on this car, Audifan. I had not heard of VM Motori, now owned by FIAT. From the short writeup on Wikipedia they have had an interesting history, and are now at the forefront of small but powerful diesels. I was also interested to see the family resemblance of the interior of this Alfa 6 4-door and my early GTV6 interior.

  7. Van

    An alpha diesel is just wrong
    Like a super model running a septic tank pump out truck

    • Audifan

      Indeed, an AlPHa Diesel would be totally wrong, on the other hand, an AlFa Diesel might be ok……
      Why don’t you drive one, just to figure it out yourself.

      • Van

        Man, have you heard an Alfa Romeo, when a gas engine is singing like, Madame Butterfly.
        Who needs a radio.

  8. Leon

    From side it resembles a BMW sedan from that era

  9. Paolo Armando

    This is not an Alfetta,she is an Alfa Romeo Alfa 6.She is a very lucky car because in Italy all this cars were scrapped many years ago.

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